INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.-- The Marion County Prosecutor's Office confirms there were no records kept of a 2004 child molestation investigation of a high profile Indianapolis minister who was recently elected president of the City-County Council.
Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) Assistant Chief Randy Taylor, who was the investigator assigned to that case nearly 14 years ago, told FOX59, “I don’t remember the investigation very well,” and he, too, is mystified by a lack of police and prosecutor files detailing the allegations against Rev. Stephen Clay.
Clay was accused by then-16-year-old Jonathan Bryant of molesting the boy through his blue jeans one night at the minister’s Lawrence Township home in 2002 or 2003.
Bryant is the son of Maxine Bryant, whose family was one of the founders of Messiah Missionary Baptist Church on East 38th Street where Clay presides.
“The son had been in and out of my house during his developmental years,” Clay told reporters Jan. 2 when the charges from more than a decade ago first resurfaced. “He did in fact spend the night but his assertion with respect to me inappropriately touching him are profoundly inaccurate and untrue.”
FOX59 resisted reporting the allegations on the eve of Clay’s election to head the City-County Council due to a lack of documentation, which was finally provided this past weekend and showed no criminal charges were ever filed.
An Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) investigative report, dated June 22, 2004, found Bryant’s allegations, “substantiated,” which, according to the DCS Indiana Child Welfare Policy Manual, means, “Facts obtained during the assessment provide a preponderance of evidence…that child abuse and/or neglect has occurred.”
“Family Case Manager finds allegations of sexual abuse substantiated due to statements made by the victim,” reads the 2004 report.
The DCS standard is below that of Indiana’s criminal court system, which requires evidence of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt which is the hurdle investigators and prosecutors determine they must clear to file criminal charges in pursuit of a conviction.
The report indicates that CPS referred the case to the Marion County Sheriff’s Office and a family case manager, “spoke to Lt. (Randy) Taylor who stated that he is unable to locate (Clay) and will screen the case with Prosecutor.”
At the time, not only was Clay the leader of a significant Indianapolis African-American church community, he was also an outspoken critic of the Indianapolis Police Department and the former husband of an Indianapolis policewoman.
“When these allegations were made, I received a call from investigators and the investigators said that certain allegations had been made,” said Clay. “I went to meet the investigator. They did not come to me. I took with me a friend of many years who is our family attorney Patrick E. Chavis III and we sat there for over an hour and a half and received questions with respect to these allegations and assertions and then thirty days later we were informed that there was no basis in fact of these allegations and no charges would be made.”
Chavis confirmed that a deputy prosecutor sat in on the questioning, but former Prosecutor Carl Brizzi told FOX59 he did not recall being briefed on the case and did not know why no case file exists. The office of his successor, Terry Curry, issued this statement:
“Based on a review conducted today, this office did not maintain any records related to an investigation of Stephen Clay in 2004 if that matter was in fact presented for a charging decision.
“Any matter reviewed in 2004 would have been handled by a prior administration, as Prosecutor Curry took office January 1, 2011.”
Taylor also confirmed that he has been unable to locate any file related to the case under his supervision.
“After he came in and denied things without any other physical evidence, I would have discussed it with the prosecutor and what should have happened, and if there was a turn down, there should have been a number assigned to it and a reason for the turn down.”
Taylor said there was no pressure or directive to downplay or dismiss the Clay investigation and sometimes cases were resolved with verbal discussions that did not include the filing of paperwork.
“We can have different opinions but we can’t have different facts,” said Clay the week before he deposed incumbent Councilor Maggie Lewis as president of the council in an upset victory.
Clay blamed the resurgence of the allegations on Lewis in what he termed a desperate attempt to beat back his challenge.
Lewis denied the claim.
“Be clear on this: I’m a lot of things but a pedophile ain’t one of them,” said Clay who did not return a request for comment on the DCS report.